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Sinn Féin demands Joint Ministerial Meetings to redress north west/border counties infrastructure deficit

19 June, 2006

Omagh Sinn Féin Council Chair Cllr Seán Begley says that demand for Division 1A Transport infrastructure for the North West and Border Counties of Ireland took a major step forward today with the official launch of a joint position paper on the issue by the Irish Central Cross Border Area Network (ICBAN) and the North West Region Cross Border Group (NWRCBG) which are comprised of elected representatives from throughout the region.

Speaking at today's launch in the Mellon Country Inn (on the A5 between Strabane and Omagh), which was facilitated by the Omagh/Sligo Partnership and at which Minister of State, Pat "The Cope" Gallagher was principle speaker, the Omagh Council Chair said,

"The importance of today's event should not be underestimated as it represents the collective demand by the elected representatives of the people in the North West and Border Counties for Division 1A Transport infrastructure so as to enable this region to compete on an equal basis with other regions of Ireland which are miles ahead in terms of transport infrastructure.

"The joint ICBAN/NWCBG position paper identified that existing motorway networks, north and south will not improve the competitiveness of this region. We foresee tremendous benefits to be accrued with the construction of two major transportation corridors. These corridors running from North to West linking Donegal, Derry, Omagh, Monaghan and Dublin, and a similar corridor stretching from West to east linking Sligo City, Enniskillen, Dungannon, and Belfast, would integrate into the National Roads network.

West Tyrone Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty who was one of many party representatives who attended the conference said that while the Regional Development Strategy in the six counties and the National Spatial Strategy in the 26 counties purport to be committed to Balanced regional development, the continued failure by both governments to adopt a truly integrated approach to transport infrastructure planning and development on this island, is the key impediment to the northwest and border counties securing essential infrastructure.

He said,

"There has yet to be a formal Joint Ministerial Meeting to discuss this issue of crucial importance to the socio-economic regeneration of this part of Ireland. The problems arising from the transport infrastructure deficit in the northwest and border counties and the demands for this to be addressed have been put time and time again to both governments by Sinn Fein and others. Last month Sinn Fein launched our campaign demanding proper road and rail infrastructure for the region and today this ICBAN/NWRCBG initiative leaves both governments under no illusion about what is required. The next step is for Joint Ministerial Meetings to take place and to strategically plan the implementation of the solutions. ENDS

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